In the DR the smoked salmon and I caught an Escogido v. Licey baseball game. They’re cross-town rivals in Santo Domingo. The cab driver who drove us to the game was so fired up to talk baseball with a tourist that he ran at least 10 red lights (or maybe he never stopped at red lights—I don’t really know).
The stadium emanated a dilapidation reserved for Caribbean capitals. It was a giant cement block painted in pastels and covered in an inch of soot. Imagine the color of a baby blanket stolen by a dog and taken under the dog’s favorite bush to be covered in doggie filth.
We got to the game a few minutes late and stepped out onto the bleachers just in time to see none other than one, David “Big Papi” Ortiz approaching the plate. The crowed went mad and a group of dudes drummed out a special song reserved for Papi. Ortiz went through all of his same pre-at bat rituals he does in Boston—the same adjusting of the batting gloves and elbow pad—the same tapping the plate with the end of the bat. Ortiz ended up going 1 for 3 (or 3 for 1 as they call it down there) with 2 RBIs. Ortiz’s team, Escogido, won. It was like magic to be in this random ass stadium watching guys in weird uniforms and there was the Boston Red Sox most lovable player. And God bless him for making 5 million dollars last year in the US and still going down to the DR to play winter ball. Some might say it risks injury unnecessarily (may pro sports contracts require players to give up things like skiing in the off season for this reason). But whatever, it shows Ortiz is as pure a baseball player as their ever was.